Germany must publish list of artworks hoarded by recluse: court

Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:41pm EST
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By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany must publish the full list of artworks found in the flat of an elderly recluse last year which are mostly believed to have been looted or extorted by the Nazis, a German court ruled on Friday, citing the need for transparency in a case long hushed up.

The stash of more than 1,400 paintings, drawings and sculptures includes works by Picasso, Matisse and German expressionists Otto Dix and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Authorities have valued the collection at 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion).

Germany has faced criticism from around the world for failing to publish the full list of artworks, as well as for keeping silent for nearly two years about the trove.

Critics say it would be easier to establish the provenance and rightful ownership of works seized by the Nazis or bought under duress from Jews fleeing persecution during the Holocaust if details about them are made public.

"The administrative court of Augsburg has ordered state prosecutors to give a list of the artworks ... to the reporter of a daily newspaper," the Bavarian court said in a statement, referring to the right to information under media law.

A spokesman for the prosecutors said they had already appealed against the court's ruling and were not planning on publishing the list until that had been dealt with.


German mass-selling daily Bild said the ruling came after it had lodged a complaint with the court against the prosecutors for publishing details about only 442 artworks.   Continued...

The house of art collector Cornelius Gurlitt is pictured in Salzburg November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler